January 15th, 2013
"if you want to do well in the course, you ought to do your readings before the class"
Applies to you all the time, because you have the capacity to reason
o You're bound to all kinds of ought claims because they are "moral laws"
What would happen if everybody did this as well?
o Cutting line to bathroom example
Political philosophy: Rawls
o The theory of justice
His concern was to outline what the basic outline of society to look like if we want it to
This is most important to get right, because we can then work on the details after that
o Idea is to design from scratch a well ordered society
You know that you have if everybody has bought into the principles of justice that
satisfy that society, and knows the basic structure of their society has been designed
in line with those principles
If we get all this done, then we can say the authority of the state is justifiable
Social contract theory
It starts from one basic insight, which is the moral equality of human beings
o Means we are not naturally subordinate to other human being or groups of humans
o If we aren't, then how can naturally free and equal people be legitimately governed?
o So why as individuals in a society buy into a concept that other people govern us? And what
would justify this government, and our obligations to it?
Social contract theory sets up hypothetical scenario where citizens get together and set up a social
contract that is to govern a state
o All set up and agree on basic structure of the society
This starts by taking recognition of the different kinds and views of the 'good life'
So people have to agree to disagree about all sorts of different things, reasonably
disagree of course about how they perceive the 'good life'
So we need to set up society where the agreement to disagree is ok
Fact of reasonable pluralism
o We recognize that other people might reasonably disagree with us, and we recognize the
need to agree to disagree
Is providing us with an ideal theory, why?
Gives us accountable well ordered society o You have some idea as to where we deviate from the just society 'setup'
That way you can view your society in respect to and try to make changes to bring you
closer to that just, ordered society
Justice as fairness
o Is what free and equal person would agree to as basic terms of social cooperation under
conditions that are fair for this purpose
You set up a procedure that is fair, and whatever results from that we know is going to
What you get from this are the principles of justice
The original position
Rawls gives us this original position, but it is behind a veil of ignorance
o A veil of ignorance is a construct that prevents you from knowing all sorts of particular facts
Everyone in the original position is self-interested
And you will propose principles of justice that will benefit you
o So Rawls says you need to put that behind the veil of ignorance, and pretend you don't
know that fact about yourself when you're proposing these principles of justice
Behind veil of ignorance everyone is mutually disinterested
o Veil is supposed to remove all of our knowledge of these certain aspects of ourselves, and
make us think about what we would do if we were to end up in any one of these bodies
Location in history
You are ignorant of any fact that may skew your prejudice
o Each person is to have an equal right to the most extensive total system of equal basic
liberties compatible with a similar system of liberty for all
o We need to have to allow each person to pursue what they view to be the good l